*This article first appeared on Eastvillagetimes.com, home of Quality Thoughts about the Padres and Chargers *

When AJ Preller completed the blockbuster trade for Craig Kimbrel and tag-along Melvin Upton a mere hours before the start of the 2015 season, many questioned the Padres’ general manager’s sanity. The trade seemed unnecessary at face value. The Padres not only took on a large amount in additional salary, but also gave up several decent prospects on top of the salary.

In hindsight the trade looks decent, given Kimbrel’s strong performance and Upton’s semi-resurgence, but the Padres gave up too much in order to upgrade the closer on what turned out to be a losing team.

With 2015 firmly in the Padres rearview mirror, the time is now to decide what to do in order to put the best possible team on the field come Opening Day 2016. That all starts with biting the bullet and trading Kimbrel. The Padres really have no need for a pitcher of his caliber and salary, on a team that is more likely competing for .500 than competing for a playoff spot as currently constituted. A good closer is of very little value to a team that may be destined for another losing season.

The Padres dangled Kimbrel as trade bait during last year’s trade deadline and should do the same come the winter meetings. Expect no shortage of splashes by Preller, starting with Kimbrel.

If a pitcher of Craig Kimbrel’s caliber is made available, there will be no shortage of potential suitors lining up at the chance to upgrade at the back end of the bullpen. In addition to the teams that were interested during the 2015 season, there are a few other teams that could test their hand come this offseason. The eight most likely landing spots for Craig Kimbrel are detailed ahead, in order of which teams are most likely to actually complete a potential trade. 

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